What Are 301 Redirects and 302 Redirects?

Businesses and digital marketers may have seen the term “301 redirect” and “302 direct” before when browsing on a blog, website, or another landing page online. If you’ve never used either of these on your website, or are curious about what they can do, then keep reading and see how they can potentially embolden your content strategy.

Both of these functions are commands on the website that redirect a user from an old URL to a new URL or page, hence the term “redirect.” Digital marketers or webmasters may use these commands to help users find the piece of optimized content on their website, filter outdated content, and ultimately improve the user experience for a potential visitor.

However, 301 and 302 redirects aren’t exactly interchangeable. A 301 redirect has a slightly different purpose than a 302 redirect and may not work for the best for temporary webpage updates. Below, we’ll explain the differences between each redirect type and how you can use it to create a more optimized, successful website:

301 Redirects are used for permanent changes and to replace older content

A 301 redirect is a command that permanently replaces the destination of a URL from a previous webpage to a new landing page or piece of content. Whenever you need to provide an extensive update to outdated content, using a 301 redirect is the best method to do so. If you change the URL of a page without setting up a 301 redirect, users will find themselves on a 404 error page, or whichever page you’ve set your site to redirect to when a URL is incorrect. This means that any links around the web that previously pointed to that page will no longer work, which is why setting up a 301 is so important!

301 redirects are great to use when you’re re-branding a new company or website, moving webpages to an optimized and secure protocol (www. to https.), or making any significant new change to your website. But what if you only need a temporary update or change to your website’s content?

Use 302 redirects whenever you need a temporary update, but don’t rely on 302 redirects for SEO purposes

Unlike a 301 redirect, a 302 redirect is when a website uses a temporary redirect in order to make updates without permanently changing URL destinations. It is critically important to understand that 302 redirects used for longer-than-expected duration can create a decrease in overall SEO; this creates an impact on everything from organic search to SERPs and page ranking, so it’s not a long-term solution for redirection.

When you use a 302 redirect, it continues to rank the previous page and index it accordingly. If the 302 redirect is active for an extended period of time it could lead to duplicate content penalties and indexing issues. Be extremely careful when using 302 redirects and use them for short, intermittent projects such as A/B testing, creating content drafts, and while in the process of making updates. Consult an expert to determine what the best case for redirects is for your website.

How can you use either 301 or 302 redirects for your website?

Based on the needs of your website, you’ll want to choose the redirect that makes the most sense for you content updates. Remember that a 301 redirect works as a permanent change and is less likely to create a new duplicate content penalty. Conversely, a 302 redirect is great for temporary content updates or testing pages.

If you need more information or have questions about these web commands, contact our SEO experts at 857-526-0096.

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